PML-N MNA Javed Latif on Tuesday was arrested after a sessions court rejected his bail petition in a case registered against him on charges of inciting people against state institutions.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Wajid Minhas presided over today's hearing. Allegedly Latif had left the courtroom before the verdict was announced.
According to Latif's lawyer Farhad Ali Shah, the PML-N leader was arrested by the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) near Saggian Pul. "Arresting someone before the verdict is announced is a violation of the law," the lawyer said.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif condemned Latif's arrest. "Latif is a sincere ally of the PML-N. The arrests of party workers and political leaders show the government's bewilderment," he said in a statement.
"The spirit of understanding, tolerance and harmony takes the country and society forward." He expressed the hope that the courts would provide justice in the case.
On March 20, Latif was booked on charges of treason and a case was registered against the MNA on the complaint of a citizen, Jameel Saleem.
According to the first information report, the MNA from Sheikhupura had allegedly defamed state institutions and delivered hateful remarks against them. In a TV talk show, Latif had said: “If anything happened to PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, the PML-N will not say Pakistan Khappay.”
His remarks had been roundly criticised by members of the government with Punjab Prisons Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan vowing to get a case registered against him while PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had also said that Latif should apologise for his remarks.
During today's hearing, the PML-N leader's counsel argued that the FIR registered against his client was fake and baseless. "Latif belongs to the PML-N and the opposition. Police have registered the case on the basis of malice," he said.
He argued that a case was registered against the MNA without listening to his entire statement. "The police do not have the powers to register FIRs in such cases," he said, adding that his client did not run and faced the allegations in court.
The prosecution lawyer added that Latif had overstepped the line when making the comments. He informed the court that a CD of the MNA's comments had been sent for forensics. He maintained that the prosecution's case was in accordance with the law.
"At this stage, there is no basis for granting bail," he said, urging the court to dismiss Latif's bail so that the case can move forward.
LHC censures Latif for 'comments against Pakistan'
Earlier this month, the Lahore High Court (LHC) had censured Latif for making statements against the country and state institutions. LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan was presiding over a hearing on Latif's petition asking the court to quash “illegal” cases against him.
During the hearing, the chief justice had told Latif to "leave the country and go abroad if you want to say such things”. "Fear God! Why do you say such things?" he had questioned, adding people would hold anyone who spoke against the country accountable.
"Is our patriotism really loyalty to the state or loyalty to personalities? Personalities keep coming and going," the chief justice had said, further remarking that it was important to self-reflect. "If you want to stay here then go and present your justification to the police."
The chief justice had questioned if anyone had the courage to speak against Pakistan and observed that personalities were not important, rather the Constitution was important. "Personalities keep coming and going [but state] institutions remain."
Consequently, Latif had withdrawn his petition from the LHC.